Sunday, 24 November 2013

Comfort zones.

I've been off work this week.

Not really because I wanted to but more because I had 14 days holiday to use before the end of December. I do this every single year and end up being absent for the majority of the run up to Christmas. It sounds ridiculous but I hate being off work unless I have a valid reason such as going abroad or attending an event. Sitting at home looking for things to do just depresses me and, as much as I love him, Adam usually drives me round the twist if we spend too long in close proximity. I may have mentioned it before but he is more of a 'get up and go without thinking' and I'm more of a 'let's hold tight and contemplate the world' kind of guy. Neither is a bad thing; it can just result in chaos when combined.

I went down to Nottingham to stay with some old university friends this weekend. We do this every so often and we take it in turns to host. This time, it was Amy's turn and we spent the weekend perusing the (somewhat early) Christmas market in Derby and talking of her upcoming wedding. They've just acquired a kitten called Penny and although I am far from a cat lover, it really is the cutest kitten I have ever clapped eyes on. Just look at her; she's about the size of a child's hand! I'm under no illusions though - cats still seem like satan's minions to me....

On Tuesday, after a few days of boredom and sitting around waiting for some of Adam's Christmas presents to arrive, I decided to take a drive down to Dad's new house in Cambridgeshire. It is the first home he has bought with his girlfriend Shirley and it's lovely. It is just on the outskirts of a rural village and is absolutely huge! I knew he wanted space for when Shirley's family come to stay but I did not realise it was a family of fifty. Ridiculous but what can I say - he seems happy. I will say that Shirley acted completely differently in her own home. She is extremely stern and somewhat cutting. You know when you feel as though you are treading on eggshells with someone all of the time? Well yeah, she's like that. I'm kind of glad I live away as I can't see us getting on too well up close. She has also banished Dad's dog (who used to be mine) Stella, so that she is outside all day and is only allowed in the breakfast room for a few hours each night. Dad kind of tricked me as he said she came in at night with him whilst he watched TV (as she always has) but after visiting, I've discovered that yes she is allowed in but she has to be two rooms away. The Dad I know would never have allowed that, especially as she has her extremely irritating grandchildren wailing like banshees around the house every day, but like I said it seems things have changed. I just can't wait for Nan to visit - she's quite the whirlwind and will not tolerate that at all. I'll nervously sit and await the phone call regarding that one.

Now I'm just about ready to go back to work - which is just as well as I'm back tomorrow. No doubt I'll be greeted with 487587689786 emails, a barrage of office gossip and the usual 'how was your week off?' question but I'd be lying if I said I was dreading it. For all its tedium, I have to admit; it's my comfort zone.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Too soon, too soon.

Well winter is well and truly beginning to settle in. We've had a relatively dry year so far but I now can't remember the last time I walked to work without being drenched by drizzle. I would't mind, I mean I'm all for the joys of nature but it isn't even proper rain - it's that extremely irritating mist that hits you like a sheet of freezing cold glass. Sometimes when I arrive at work, I can't even feel my forehead. Having said that, the technique could be useful next time I feel a migraine coming on.

The shops are already decked out with Christmas paraphernalia. I have visions of shop staff waiting with bated breath until midnight after Bonfire Night, chomping at the bit to throw tinsel across the shelves. Adam loves it as Christmas could never come too early for him but I can't help but be depressed whenever I think about Yuletide in November. Is this really what we have become? Such a shallow, materialistic race of commercialists? I've banned all talk of it until December 1st and believe me, I've more than compromised. I say I've banned all talk but that hasn't stopped Adam from attempting to subtly 'christmas-ise' the house. I've already had to confiscate two wooden reindeer that appeared prematurely on the lounge shelf and a red and green doorstop that I can only presume was the fruit of one of his craft sessions. I did, however, allow the purchase of a doggie advent calendar in Sainsbury's yesterday so I'm not a complete Scrooge. Put it down to the Swedish in me - we're strictly  'Christmas in December' type people.

A spate of boredom a few evenings ago lead me to look up 'the top 50 books you should read before you die' online. I have to admit, it strongly varies from website to website and heavily depends on the nationality of the article but I've narrowed down a good list of twenty that seem to appear across the board. I'm challenging myself to read them all at least before the end of next year but I tend to read in bursts - I can go months without reading anything at all and then suddenly I'll clear a good ten novels in just a few weeks. I've started with 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Most kids study it in school but I was lumbered with Shakespeare, Lord of the Flies, Great Expectations and The Woman in White. Ironically, due to that reason, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is one of the very few books that Adam has read. He takes great delight in reminding me of it too - I'm eager to change that.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


I managed to take a half decent photo of Skye a few days ago as she bathed in the evening sunset. She really isn't meant to climb the furniture but if you've ever tried to train a husky to obey you, you'll understand why we gave up. To be honest, we more than gave up - she now has her own chair. I read somewhere once that huskies prefer to be companions rather than pets and they weren't far wrong. Total diva.

Notice how she wears two tags; one blue and one pink? Well that's because myself and Adam had a huge argument over what colour collar and lead she should have. Initially it was all blue which I liked as it has obvious links to 'Skye'. One day I came home from work and everything was pink. Much to my annoyance it turned out that Adam's mum had replaced the blue theme with pink as she believed that blue wasn't right for a girl. Yes she's our dog and yes, I did calmly walk away...... using every last ounce of strength. Needless to say I'm too stubborn to completely give in and now she wears both tags and I switch her lead to the blue one when I take her out. Job done.

Browsing through the app store, I just installed an app called 'Woof' - kind of an anonymous Facebook for dogs. Don't worry, I took a look more for humour purposes than anything else and my preconceptions were confirmed when, after just 10 minutes, a 6-month-old dachshund called 'Macbumhole' added me. Oh the joys of the modern age.

Talking of dogs, I've been walking to and from work for the past several weeks due to the current insane traffic build up. They've shut a couple of main roads  (why they don't just do one after the other I'll never understand) and as a result, the whole city's traffic is trying to get down one road during peak times. I live a five minute drive from work and it was taking just over 50 minutes to get in - absolutely crazy. Now I'm walking, it takes just under twenty minutes; I feel great for it but I have to walk through the dreaded woodland and at this time of year it's comparable to running the gauntlet. Now there's a five minute window in which, if I hit the woods, I walk right into some local guy and his seven yappy Yorkshire terriers. It may not seem a big deal but believe me, it is the trauma of traumas and I curse myself repeatedly if I time it incorrectly.

To begin with, you have no idea they are there until you hear the most deafening whistle and three or four of them dart out from the bushes in front of you. They're soon joined by the others who then circle you at break-neck speed, periodically weaving in and out of your legs the whole way down the track. During this, their owner merrily picks his way through the undergrowth oblivious to the drama unfurling. It adds on a good 10 minutes to my journey time and never fails in further ruining my already sorry looking shoes.

On the bright side, it has become quite the joke at work now and my colleagues have already started keeping tally of our encounters (one look at my shoes provides a tell-tale sign). I suppose the only other alternatives are cycling and public transport?

I think I'll just take my chances with the dogs.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Gunpowder, Treason & Plot.

Even if I had just awoken from a year long coma, I would still know that it is the 5th of November tomorrow. Walking home from work this evening, I could already smell the pungent stench of bonfire in the bitterly cold autumn air. Fireworks have been going off for days now so they are no real surprise - they're one of those things that people need very little excuse to let off. I've never quite got the appeal but I suppose it's something to do with man's obsession with fire; the somewhat prettier equivalent of a BBQ.

In favour of a quieter, more chilled out November 5th (complete with V For Vendetta, naturally), we got our celebrations out of the way with yesterday. Adam bought a few fireworks, hotdogs and marshmallows and even managed to haul the fire pit out of the garage ready for the neighbours coming over.

We messed around with sparklers, laughed at Adam's horrendous attempt at a Catherine Wheel and came to realize exactly why it is that I'll never entertain the idea of having children. Don't get me wrong, they're great kids but they seem to require constant attention, wreak havoc on everything they touch and are able to throw what are quite possibly the biggest tantrums I've ever seen (and you haven't seen Adam's!). God love them.

I did try my hand at some firework photography but I doubt things could have gone any worse than they did. The wind was blowing a gale and with it came rain. I had no idea how to use Adam's tripod and he seemed hellbent on letting the fireworks off without telling me which direction they would travel. Needless to say, I missed 98% of them. Better luck next time I guess?

Now I'm treating myself to an early night. I've been ridiculously tired lately to the point I just feel like laying down and sleeping part way through the day - very un-wayne like. I blame Adam's irritating snoring and constant teeth-grinding that goes on all night. I've decided that the only solution is to ensure I'm in bed by 10 to help catch up.

Having said that, I am already 9 minutes over but who's counting?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A surprising Halloween.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Halloween! Despite being English, I have a ridiculous love of the Halloween season; part of me even prefers it to Christmas. Maybe it's the heathen in me? Who knows.

Usually we get dressed up and go out partying but Adam was working this year so I opted for a quiet night in alone with horror films and pumpkin carving. I say a quiet night but it actually turned into one of the most exhausting nights I've had in many months. I have never seen so many trick or treaters in my entire life!

To the Americans, the presence of trick or treaters probably won't come as a surprise but here in Britain it has never really taken hold the way it has across seas. If you're lucky (or unlucky), most houses will probably only get one or two but within 2 hours I managed to get through 75 bags of Haribo - literally raped by Halloween. I knew that we would probably get more in this new house what with living in the suburbs near lots of families and the ever increasing popularity of Halloween each year. I loved it - the families looked amazing dressed up and the street came alive. Weirdly, you don't see many house decorated for Halloween but of the 7 houses in our street, 5 were decked out. I hope the trend continues, it's such a fun time of year and I'm extremely jealous of the US when it comes around. I just need to be better equipped next year - finding extra stock of emergency sweets in the local shop at 6pm on Halloween is virtually impossible.

We put all of our creative efforts into decorating at work. It was a lot easier this year as the schools have been off for half term which means it was pretty quiet. It actually gave us a great distraction from an otherwise boring two weeks. I donned an old Batman top that I made whilst at university, taped some bin liner wings to the arms and graced everyone with my make-shift bat effort. I'd be lying if I said the wings weren't insanely annoying. They got caught everywhere; toilet door, between my chair arms and the desk, under cups etc etc. Deep joy.


Next up is November 5th - Guy Fawkes night. Fireworks have already started going off and I've started to smell one or two bonfires. I can't say I've ever been particularly fond of Bonfire Night. It annoys me that one of Britain's main 'must celebrate' events takes place in the darkest depths of Winter and celebrates someone being hung, drawn and quartered. Let's just say I don't see the appeal of being crammed in a cold, wet field amongst thousands of people whilst they burn an effigy in memory of a public execution. Childhood memories of it is another thing - Catherine Wheels getting stuck on the garden fence, Dad launching rockets in the wrong direction and burning my rain-soaked fingers on sparklers. Sigh.

Anyway, I need to stop being a killjoy - Adam is already talking about buying a few fireworks and inviting our neighbour over for hotdogs and marshmallows. Happy face at the ready!